CCW Weekend: How To Fly With Guns
By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters
A road trip is one thing, but what if you want to fly with your carry gun? Or if you’re going out of state for a hunting trip? It’s not difficult, but it takes a bit of doing.
I decided to leave mine at home when I traveled to the NRA Meetings in Indianapolis. Since I was going to be in such a large crowd of people and plenty of them were going to be armed, I just didn’t feel like putting up with the hassle and the expense of additional checked baggage. In different circumstances, I would have.
How to do it if you were so inclined?
It’s actually not difficult, and actually doesn’t require much in terms of equipment. However, there are a few things you need to have. There are also some procedures that have to be followed. The good news is that since flight is federally regulated – unlike carrying in the car, which is partially federal but mostly state-regulated – the rules are the same everywhere, so there’s no variations in the law that you have to be aware of.
It goes without saying, but we aren’t lawyers here and this isn’t legal advice, just a discussion of publicly available information, which you can also get directly from the TSA. If you intend to concealed carry at your destination, you must (of course) also have a permit for that jurisdiction if a permit is required there. With that said…
All guns, per TSA regulations, must be transported in a hard-sided case. There’s no approved list, so any hard plastic case will do. Since many of them come in a hard plastic case, that’ll probably suffice so long as it can be locked.
The gun must be stored unloaded; revolvers can’t even have a round in a cylinder, so just empty the darn thing and don’t try to skirt the rules. A loaded magazine inserted in the grip counts as loaded, so the “the chamber is empty” argument will not fly either. You can fly with loaded magazines, but they must not be in the firearm in any way shape or form.
Any firearms must be checked and must also be declared at check-in. The case must be locked, and the key to said lock must be in your possession at all times. Most guns come with a cable lock, so that’s a good one to use though you can opt for a heavier lock if so desired.
Magazines and ammunition must also be checked. In fact, the only gun components that can be taken in your carry-on luggage are optics, so if unless it’s glass, check the thing.
Firearm parts that are not a magazine or ammunition may be in checked baggage, but magazines and ammunition must also be checked and locked inside a hard-sided case. It is okay for your ammunition and magazines to be in the same container as your firearm, so long as the firearm is unloaded, ammunition is in a secure container such as the box it came in or in the magazine itself, and said ammunition is of at least 0.75 caliber or smaller.
So, to sum up.
For a carry gun, the best way to go about it is to unload your pistol totally, and place loaded magazines in the case with the gun, then lock it. Or, if needed, get a separate hard case for magazines and ammunition and lock it as well, and make sure that keys for any checked firearms. Make sure the key to the lock is on your person at all times.
International travel, however, is a different beast, as that involves not only US Customs regulations but also those of your destination country as well.
Doesn’t sound too difficult, does it?
Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for AlienGearHolsters.com, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit aliengearholsters.com.